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II FIP Arena Polo Championship Baku: First match triumph for Team Azerbaijan and Team Spain

II FIP Arena Polo Championship Baku: First match triumph for Team Azerbaijan and Team Spain

Polo in this amazing country has grown exponentially over the past 10 years, thanks the dedication of the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan Republic ARAF and the support of World Polo.
Yesterday the competition kicked off at the magnificent venue of the indoor convent arena of the Elite Horse and Polo Club Baku with action streamed live on Azeri national television. A day of top quality international polo saw the home team of Azerbaijan facing Austria in the opening match of the II FIP Arena Polo Championship, followed by Spain vs Switzerland in the second match of the day. Before the the first match, the player and supporters held a few moments of silence and all present war black ribbons of remembrance in honor of those lost in the recent border incidents.
As spectators and press around the world gathered alongside General Elchin Guliyev, President of the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan Republic and Dr. piero Dillier, Vice President of the FIP, in the viewing gallery, tournament favourites Azerbaijan confidently rode into the impressive arena to take on an Austrian side playing off a two goal handicap advance.Playing strongly on their home turf Azerbaijan dominated play from the first throw-in and confidently took the lead 3 -2 before half time, much to the delight of the home supporters.
Austria effectively locked down Elchin Jamalli at the start of the second half with strong marking and were rewarded with their first field goal on the match, 3 – 4. As both teams found thier stride the competition intensified as a penalty convention and the field goal both by Elchin Jamalli ensured Azerbaijan a convincing 6 -3 lead and room to breath. Austria finished a lovely goal right on the final bell, but it was to little too late and Azerbaijan run out the winners, 6 -4.
The second match between Switzerland and Spain was a fast, passionate and frenetic final to the day, with the heat rising in the arena with every passing minute. Spain began with a one goal advantage which they swiftly build upon, and despite the best effort of Tito Gaudenzi with a well-guided goal for Switzerland, Spain had the upper hand which saw the half-time score resting at a convincing 5 goals to 2.
Spain started were they left off, with another goal despite the best the best efforts of the Swiss defence, but the hart work of Tito Gaudenzi, Fabio Meier and Thomas Ruiz Guinazzu paid off with back-back-goals for Switzerland in the third chukka. Spain were back in the gaol-scoring form in the fourth chukka, gaining traction to eventually win the match with a decisive final score of 9 – 5 gaols.

Photo credit: Kathrin Gralla/www.derrotedrache.com

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